Edith Piaf to charm America, 50 years on

25th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

LOS ANGELES, April 25, 2007 (AFP) - Fifty years after her voice charmed America, Edith Piaf is out to woo the United States once more.

LOS ANGELES, April 25, 2007 (AFP) - Fifty years after her voice charmed America, Edith Piaf is out to woo the United States once more.

A critically acclaimed film biography about the tragic French singer's life, "La Vie En Rose" opens in America later this year and is already tipped by US film reviewers as a potential Oscar-winner.

Piaf, who died of cancer in 1963 aged 47, enjoyed huge popularity during the 1950s in the United States, where she appeared on the long-running "Ed Sullivan Show" eight times and played Carnegie Hall twice.

But the legendary chanteuse's legacy in America has faded since her death and it remains to be seen whether Olivier Dahan's film, starring Marion Cotillard as Piaf, will revive interest in the singer.

Tickets for Los Angeles screenings of "La Vie En Rose" (released as "La Mome" in France) were snapped up by cinema-goers at the French film festival, City of Light-City of Angels (COL-COA).

"People reserved tickets three weeks in advance and we were sold out 10 days before," said festival director Francois Truffart, saying that COL-COA had arranged another screening of the film to meet demand.

The film's success will ultimately be measured against rival French films such as "Amelie of Montmartre" and "A Very Long Engagement."

Dahan shied away from making predictions about the box-office success of "La Vie En Rose," hoping simply that "people will see the film," which generated five million ticket sales at French theaters.

However Los Angeles gossip columnist Joel Stratte-McClure, a former France correspondent for People magazine, doubted Piaf's appeal would endure.

"For people of my generation Edith Piaf is already yesterday's news," said the 58-year-old.

Los Angeles-based French film producer Pascal Vaguelsy, who won an Oscar in February for his short film "West Bank Story," said "La Vie En Rose" must reach beyond big-city audiences to find box-office success.

"The potential audience for French cinema in the United States is 50,000 cinema-goers for the big cities, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco," Vaguelsy said.

Truffart, however, warned against underestimating a possible "Piaf effect." "She was an extremely famous artist in the United States," he said.

Cotillard's startling performance in the lead role would also be crucial, Truffart said. "For American audiences, the performance is everything. And they have been completely blown away so far," Truffart told AFP.

Cotillard meanwhile said Piaf's low profile among younger generations would necessarily dilute the film's appeal.

"I don't think you have to know something to discover what she was," Cotillard said. "I think that her talent, her passion and her emotions speak for themselves."

Although few critics are betting on Piaf to outshine the most successful French film in box-office history -- last year's documentary, "March of the Penguins," which netted 77 million dollars -- Truffart believes "La Vie En Rose" could rival the 33 million earned by "Amelie."

"If promotion and word of mouth function, 'La Vie En Rose' can exceed far beyond what a foreign film in the United States does normally" Truffart said.

"'Amelie' and 'La Vie En Rose' both correspond to how Americans like to view France and Europe. The potential is large," he added.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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